Charity Woodrum was just an arm's length away when her husband and 3-year-old son were hit by a wave and carried out to sea Sunday on the Oregon Coast, the AP reports. They haven't been found. Officials tell the Statesman Journal the beach where the family was walking was steep and the water was rough at the time. The Coast Guard and Oregon State Police used ATVs, helicopters, and a boat to search for 31-year-old Jayson Thomas and his son, but the search was called off after more than 22 hours, KOIN reports. Police Capt. Bill Fugate tells KOBI it's "pretty doubtful" anyone could survive in the frigid water even with survival gear, adding that the Oregon coast is "dangerous, as beautiful as it is."
The likely deaths of Thomas and his son are yet another reminder of the dangers of "sneaker waves," Tuba Ozkan-Haller says. Contradicting officials, the wave expert says the water off the coast wasn't exceptionally rough Sunday, and it wouldn't have mattered. Sneaker waves are common during winter in the Pacific Northwest and can be caused by storms on the other side of the ocean. They can appear suddenly even amid apparently calm waters. Ozkan-Haller says Thomas and his son wouldn't have had "much space to run away" due to high tide and may have been weighed down by heavy winter clothing. She says beach-goers need to pay attention and show "respect for the ocean." (A buoy noticed a wave that was "remarkable.")